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3 min read

We’re testing audio on Medium

What if you could enjoy the great writing on Medium while taking a walk, running errands, or doing dishes? This question has driven us to start testing a new audio feature on the Medium website called text-to-speech.

The text-to-speech experiment is currently only available to a portion of Medium website readers, but our plan is to collect feedback and consider making it available to all readers in the future.

We hope this feature will be the start of many more compelling audio initiatives on Medium.

How it works

At the top of the story page you’ll see a play button. When you press this button, the story text is read to you by a computer-generated voice.

If you don’t like the default voice you can choose from seven other options. Thankfully, the computer-generated voices don’t have feelings and won’t be offended if you prefer one over the other. As far as we know! We may add more voice options in the future.

You’ll also have the option to adjust the playback speed from 0.5x to 4.5x.

We’re experimenting with this because we want all the great writing on Medium to be available to you even when you’re not able to look at a screen. We’re also trying to make Medium more accessible to those who prefer listening over reading.

As a parent of three kids under five, I often find myself short on reading time, and am excited about listening to Medium stories on the go.

What do you think? Hate it? Love it? Please let us know in the responses below.

Reader FAQ

Why am I not seeing the player?

If you’re not seeing the play button at the top of stories, you’re not alone. This feature is currently only available to a small, randomly selected group of readers on the Medium website. We hope to make the feature available to all readers soon based on early feedback and additional improvements.

Can I change the narrator’s voice?

Yes. After pressing play, you can choose from eight different options via the player that appears in the lower right corner of the story page.

Is this a permanent feature?

We don’t yet know. We’re gathering data and feedback over the next week or so to see how readers and writers respond. If you’d like this to be a permanent feature, please let us know in the responses below.

I thought Medium is only for text. Why add audio?

There are times for all of us when our eyes are busy but our minds are open,” and we hope that having the ability to listen on Medium will help more people enjoy great writing during such times. Audio also increases accessibility for those who prefer listening over reading.

Does Medium offer audio options that aren’t related to text-to-speech?

Medium recently acquired Knowable, an audio-first learning app. Knowable features lessons from hundreds of field-leading experts on subjects ranging from professional development to personal well-being. Featured contributors include NBA All-Star Chris Paul, record-holding astronaut Scott Kelly, and top TED speaker Celeste Headlee, as well as notable organizations such as MIT and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. You can check out Knowable here.

Writer FAQ

How will this feature affect my earnings?

We’ll factor listen time into the payout calculations during this experiment for eligible writers with metered stories. Eligible writers whose posts have been listened to will see a positive adjustment in their earnings after the end of the month. The adjustment will appear as a one-time engagement bonus.

Can I narrate my own stories?

Not currently. If you’d like to request this feature, please let us know in the responses below.

Can I disable this feature on my stories?

Not currently. We believe that text to speech will help more people gain access to great writing on Medium. If you’d like to request the option to disable this feature please respond below.

Will I be able to see how many people listened to my stories, or who listened?

Not yet, but if this feature becomes permanent, then we’ll work to update your dashboard accordingly.

Other questions or comments?

Please add your questions or comments below and we’ll do our best to respond to you soon. We’d love to hear from you. Yes, pun intended. 😊

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Warren Shaeffer

Warren Shaeffer

vp @medium, co-founder @knowablefyi, 3x co-founder (human + biz), very lucky, medium funny. wip.

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